It’s municipalization mania. (Yes, you can look it up. It’s a word.)
Two big chunks of the county — one in east Cobb and one in south Cobb — want out.
Articles of secession are being drafted as we speak.
How serious are these advocates for home rule? Well, both have drawn boundaries, both are collecting donations to fund the efforts and both have launched bona fide websites. That sounds serious.
The east Cobbers’ campaign raised $36,000 to fund a cityhood feasibility study that determined (surprise) cityhood is “feasible,” according to a committee press release. South Cobb hasn’t gotten that far, but is raising $30,000 to fund a study by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. We would expect a similar outcome.
You can’t say the campaigns aren’t thinking big.
Big as in 97,000-people-and-40-square-miles big for east Cobb.
Big as in 81,000-people-and-46-square-miles big for south Cobb.
That would make the two new cities Cobb County’s demographics dominators.
The city of East Cobb’s population would top county seat Marietta’s 61,000 residents by a whopping 36,000. It would also eat up a huge chunk of Cobb real estate — about 12 percent of the county as a whole or 14 percent of unincorporated Cobb.
Based on population, the city of East Cobb would rank as Georgia’s eighth largest behind Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, Athens, Macon and Sandy Springs. It would be bigger than Roswell, Albany, Johns Creek and Warner Robins.
South Cobb’s municipality would rank one spot below — ninth in the state.
There’s been a trend of areas seeking their own identity. It started with Sandy Springs a dozen years ago. Brookhaven, Chattahoochee Hills, Johns Creek, Dunwoody, Milton and Peachtree Corners among others followed.
A big difference between this tale of two cities is how the campaigns are going about their business.
South Cobb is traveling the open road. Its website includes committee members, their mugshots, bios and contact information for each.
Meanwhile, the east Cobb effort has been shrouded in secrecy, those pushing the movement preferring to do so from dark corners. One member had enough, stepped out from behind the cloak, and left the group over its clandestine ways.
If these campaigns succeed and Cobb’s seventh and eighth cities form, the county will transform on many levels.
Today, the county government is by far the dominant authority in Cobb, with nearly three-quarters of the population living outside city limits. But with these two new cities, those living in unincorporated Cobb drops to 380,000, creating an even split between city dwellers and those living outside city limits.
The ramifications affect taxes, revenues, fees, resources and services.
Certainly, the catalyst for the city-seekers is local control. Why should people in east Cobb be represented by one of four district commissioners when they can have their own mayor and council tending, fixing and beautifying their neighborhoods? Some in south Cobb have expressed discontent over being “left out” of Cobb’s development plans. Why not spend their own money in their own way? Or so the thinking goes.
Certainly any time a city forms it impacts its mother county. But the sheer size of these municipalities as planned would greatly diminish county authority, shifting more power to the cities. More decisions will be made, more services provided, more resources expended at the city level — not the county. The big dog becomes just one of the pack.
With east and south Cobb leaving the fold, we muse whether west Cobb, north Cobb and Vinings are far behind. And then the County King becomes a political pauper.
Metro Atlanta’s new ATL is a transit authority designed to apply regional thinking to solve the traffic problem. The city movement espouses the opposite — individual thinking.
Time will tell if south Cobb and east Cobb successfully circle their wagons, but the implications loom large for residents living both in and out of a city. Cobb County will not be the same.